Skip to main content

Here are five things you must know for Monday, Dec. 11:

1. -- U.S. stock futures rose on Monday, Dec. 11, ahead of a meeting this week of the Federal Reserve and after bitcoin soared following its launch on the futures market.

European markets traded mostly higher while Asian shares finished the session to the upside.

The Fed holds a two-day meeting this week, with an announcement on interest rates expected Wednesday, Dec. 13. Economists are almost unanimously in agreement that the central bank will raise rates for the third time in 2017 at the meeting..

Early indications from Wall Street futures point to further gains for U.S. stocks ahead of this week's policy meeting of the Federal Reserve -- the final gathering of the year -- and bets that Republican lawmakers will be able to deliver a comprehensive tax reform bill for the President to sign before the end of the year. 

The  economic calendar in the U.S. on Monday includes the  Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey for October at 10 a.m.

Earnings from Casey's General Stores Inc. (CASY)  are expected on Monday.

If you'd like to receive the free "5 Things You Must Know" newsletter, please register here.

2. -- Bitcoin futures surged on their first day of trading and extended gains into Monday, taking spot prices for digital currencies higher as exchange regulators halted dealing twice in order to tame market volatility.

The maiden futures contract, which settles for cash on Jan. 18, opened at a price of $15,460 and promptly fell $40 until prices rebounded to as high as $18,850, according to Cboe. At last check, bitcoin was trading at $17,520, up $2,060, with 2,795 contracts changing hands. Spot bitcoin prices on the bitstamp exchange were also trading higher, reaching a 24-hour high of $16,570.

The early trading surge on the Cboe resulted in two trading suspensions -- for two and five minutes each -- in order to slow price gains that reached 25% in the opening hours of dealing, while a spike in traffic to the exchange compelled officials to warn that its site "may be temporarily unavailable" owing to heavy visitor volumes.

XBT futures are cash-settled contracts based on Gemini's auction price for bitcoin, denominated in U.S. dollars. Gemini is the virtual currency exchange founded by twin brothers Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, who are known as the iconic Bitcoin Billionaires.

Image placeholder title

3. -- Two major hospital systems -- Ascension Health and Providence St. Joseph Health -- are in talks about a possible merger that would create the largest U.S. owner of hospitals, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the discussions.

A deal between St. Louis-based Ascension and Providence of Renton, Wash., both nonprofits, would give the combined entity 191 hospitals in 27 states and annual revenue of $44.8 billion, the Journal reported. That would top the current largest U.S. hospital operator, HCA Healthcare Inc. (HCA) , which owns 177 hospitals and ended 2016 with revenue of $41.5 billion.

Ascension and Providence have been talking for months and a merger is far from assured, the people told the Journal. Talks have included a variety of arrangements short of a merger, one of the people said.

The merger of the two hospital systems, if it happens, would raise the ante in the face-off between big hospital operators and health insurers, the Journal noted, particularly in light of CVS Health Corp.'s (CVS) $69 billion deal for Aetna Inc. (AET)

4. -- GGP Inc. (GGP) has rejected Brookfield Property Partners L.P.'s (BPY) initial $14.8 billion bid to acquire the stake Brookfield doesn't already hold in the U.S. mall owner, but remains in talks to reach a deal, Bloomberg reported, citing a person with knowledge of the matter.

Brookfield last month offered $23 a share for the 66% of GGP it doesn't own. That was about 21% more than GGP's closing price on Nov. 6, the day before Bloomberg reported that Brookfield had held discussions about taking the company private.

GGP shares closed Friday at $23.43, up 0.1%.

5. -- Ford Motor Co. (F) said car sales in China fell 8% in November from a year earlier, following a 5% decline in October.

Ford's sales growth in China has lagged behind rivals in the world's top auto market this year, according to Reuters. To that end, Ford last week inked a deal with Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. (BABA) , Asia's second-largest company, that could see Ford sell cars through Alibaba's online retail platform.

Shares of Ford fell 0.6% in premarket trading on Monday.

This story has been updated from 6:07 a.m. ET.

More of What's Trending on TheStreet: